Young L’s associations to Californian hip hop group The Pack and their prominent and seemingly inescapable member, Lil B, haven’t stopped him being marked out as an emerging talent in his own right. It’s just as well really, as the ‘Based God’ and songs about Vans trainers aside; Young L is proving himself as a bright young producer with decent mic skills to boot. There is arguably no better evidence of this than L’s latest project As I Float: The Great John Nash, a cohesive mixtape built entirely from Imogen Heap samples. Admittedly this is something you may still have your reservations about, and that’s understandable, stick with it though and the results are surprisingly strong.
Key to the mixtape’s success is the warmth of Heap’s source material, and how Young L makes it his own without losing its sickly sweet charm. While we’re used to hearing L over cold, whacked out, super brash hip hop production and it’s refreshing to hear him here making comparatively straight beats that allow him to show off his introspective side. This might be over upbeat boom bap as on ‘Angels’ and ‘Oh Me’, or the more low-key and hazy production styles found on the likes of ‘Be Ready’ and mixtape closer ‘Numb’. The latter, borrowing a beat from producer of the moment Clams Casino, is one of just two songs featuring guest production and its woozy synths are the perfect match for L’s husky vocals. Hopefully this collaboration bears more fruit in the near future.
As a rapper there’s nothing particularly flashy about Young L, but he flows nicely and a neat turn of phrase is never too far away to lose interest. Even so, it’s startling to hear a big voice like Freeway turn up on the tape’s penultimate track ‘Fluorescent Lights’, who’s distinctive rasp jumps out of the song when surrounded by the comparatively dulcet tones of Heap and L. It’s undoubtedly the combination of these two voices which makes this tape work so well, and it’s always nice to hear a record with a concept that is realised effectively. While As I Float…is by no means perfect, it certainly confirms a maturing Young L as one to keep your eye on in the future.
Words: Kyle Ellison // Out: Now, for free (via Megaupload)